It seems funny to write about economy when we have a much worse problem looming. Who cares if you make $10.10/hour when we are busy committing suicide by sponsoring such activities as the Keystone XL Pipeline.
However there is something wrong with the economy. And there is something wrong with our political system. Is there any doubt? There can't be because almost universally everyone can tell you how the system has failed them or someone they know. Now all my life I have heard people say that we have the best political system on the planet and so you should shut up and be thankful. So if this is the best of all possible worlds then I shudder to think what it is like in other places. And then of course there is that new meme "First world problems." Clearly when I complain that my cell phone doesn't get LTE coverage where I've been told it should, then who am I kidding? In fact I have a computer and I am using it to complain on a blog. I mean seriously dude?
Nonetheless I am going to climb up on the soapbox. And while it may be true that it is a pretty amazing technological soapbox, only I know how close I am to having merely a soapbox from which to speak. I know far too many people who are just surviving. And when you are just surviving you can't always do the right thing in the same way that a wealthier individual can. Being poor actually costs money. There are penalties everywhere for being poor. The poor pay late fees, face overdrafts, get no interest on their "investments" and pay the highest interest on what they borrow. The worst penalty of all for being poor works like the penalty box in an ice hockey game. Time out is the penalty for being busy surviving. (In fact for the incarcerated poor it is far worse than ice hockey, though I understand it is similar and you often get bloodied.)
You don't last long in hocky without pads and a helmet. No one can participate in an economy if they don't have the equipment. And there is a cost for the tools, even the most basic. If you plan to make any money in the US, try doing that without a phone. You don't need to have a computer right? Yet the news would have us believe that one of Obama's worse sins was not setting up a health care website that could handle all the traffic. Yet you can't work if you are sick. Citizens need to be healthy to work. To be healthy they need a place to sleep and food to eat. To participate in the economy costs money. Everybody needs seed capital. Everybody has expenses.
So what does $10.10/hour buy you? Working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks that works out to about $21,008 dollars. Until recently, according to McDonald's you could live off of $24,720 if you don't pay for gas for your car, or child care, or food. How did you get $24,720 from $21,008? You mean you don't have a second job? To be fair McDonald's allowed you $25 a day spending money. So with that I guess you buy $5 worth of gas, lunch and dinner. (Remember you aren't cooking at home since you have a second job and no time to shop or cook.) But now it seems McDonald's is out of the advice business. Looks like we have to turn instead to politician's for advice. I'd love to see their idea of a budget for someone making $10.10/hour. No, I'd love to see them make only $10.10/hour. Considering how often they are actually in session they'd make considerably less than a McDonald's employee.
Now if I want to influence or participate in the political system in any way besides simply voting that costs money too. It even costs money to vote in many places. McDonald's didn't include a budget for political influence. I really love the spam email I get from political organizations. There is always one clear message. "We" can't win unless I send them some money to fight the other guys who have more money. Apparently whoever spends the most money wins. It is like a Marketing 101 textbook. Sales come from advertising. You don't even need a product. Anyway they clearly don't have a product.
And to make matters worse now corporations are people too. There is all sorts of money being spent by corporations to influence politics. I don't know about you, but if I worked for one of those corporations I'd demand that if they have extra money to spend, they should pay me a decent wage instead. Any human with a functioning brain should be able to see why we want to put a stop to corporate dollars buying our elections. For one thing, corporate influence can come from outside our country. You would think that fact alone would put a stop to it. I don't know about you but I don't want Al Qaeda, Inc. deciding who runs the country.
Now the simplest thing would be to pass a new law forbidding corporations to fund elections. While we are at it why not do something about lobbyists too to make them weaker? That would be easy. But true to form, the liberals have a plan to stop this. The "Government by the People Act" is their amazing plan. The idea seems simple, they are going after that $25 spending money. And then if you give it to them, they will match it, or better, with some more money (from where? your taxes?) which will help your voice be heard. And even though the money is getting matched you will still get a tax credit. So the math seems to add up on that right? They say this will counter the money being spent by big donors and corporations. But this plan just might pass since it seems destined to provide a minimum wage for politicians running for election. After all, who needs a minimum wage more than those guys? So apparently this Bill fixes all the problems caused by Citizens United. It sure seems like the names of Bills are always kind of ironic.
I'm beginning to think we need a maximum wage law. And maybe another law that sets a maximum for money that can be accepted from lobbies and political "action" committees. I'm not sure it should be legal for a CEO to get millions of dollars when his latest decision was to take away someone's pension, close a factory or remove jobs. And we definitely need an independent group to rename Bills before Congress with names that say what they really are: The "Government Screws the People" bill or maybe the "Your Money Pays Our Bills" Bill. And really, whoever thought of using the word "action" with the word "committee"? What were they smoking?